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This March ORLY is celebrating Women’s History Month by featuring twelve women who inspire us.

Each day we’ll be posting a Q&A and a New Woman’s History Month polish trio hand selected by each of our featured women.

The celebration doesn’t stop there - 10% of sales from all Women’s History Month trios will be donated to Downtown Women's Center.

Act fast!
Trios will only be available through March 31, 2020.
Click here to shop.

 

CAT CHEN

Founder & CEO, Skylar

How did you know you had the right idea? How much did this idea change from initial concept to launching your brand?

Initially, I tried to make an all-natural perfume formula on my own. I bought around 100 essential oils and began blending in my house. As I was creating and testing, I found that I was not able to capture the complexity and unique blends of the scents that I love. They also weren’t resonating with my friends and family who I had asked to test them out. As I began trying other options, I found that safe-synthetic scent notes were the missing piece to bring the fragrances to another level, and it made our fragrances a cleaner option for those with irritations or allergies to all-natural fragrances.

How do you handle adversity and doubt? What about self-doubt? 

In a fast-growing business, you experience adversity and doubt almost every day. There are a couple of things that I have learned that really help.

1) Talking to other people in my similar situation- I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs, colleagues, mentors who may have experienced a situation in the same context. It is helpful to get another person’s perspective or insight into how they navigated that path.

2) Self-care- This is incredibly important and was ultimately a game-changer for me. I was really bad at not prioritizing a self-care routine in the first two years that I started Skylar. I worked 7 days a week, late into the evenings, and I didn’t exercise or work out because I didn’t think that I had time. While business was growing, I found that not taking care of myself was taking its toll. I really shifted my focus to take better care of myself across the board. Now, I consistently work out 2-4 times a week, I don’t work on the weekends, and I try to be home at a reasonable time throughout the week. Prioritizing self-care helps your sanity, your energy, your attitude. With this change, I’ve found that when you have a more positive attitude, it helps deal with adversity, constant changes, and setbacks even better. 

What has been your biggest set-back or road block and how did you handle that situation?

Getting started is one of the hardest things to do when you start your business. Going from zero to somewhere is tough and taking that first step is much harder than most realize. At the beginning you experience a lot of self-doubt, wondering if all of your hard work will be worth it. It’s the really small day to day hiccups that felt like setbacks early on- if I didn’t make it to the post office in time one day, that meant orders would be late. If a customer expressed their dissatisfaction, it made an impact because our customer base was smaller. In the early days you take everything so hard. Now, I have more confidence in myself and my decisions. As a company, we have a great track record, more customers who’ve been with us for a long time, we’ve built a strong foundation for ourselves by taking that first step and getting started.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

When I was really young, probably under 7, I wanted to be a cook or someone who worked in a restaurant. I remember always playing “cook in the kitchen”. I walked around with a notepad and pencil as a waitress and took orders from my customers (my parents). I loved asking their orders and making sure that their food and orders arrived just as they wanted, that they had a good experience. Even from a young age, customer service was always very important to me. Even back then, getting a positive reaction was very satisfying. I take the same approach to what I am doing now, putting the customer first and providing them with an experience that they are happy with.

What advice would you give your teenage self? 

I would tell myself not to sweat the small things and don’t obsess too much. I have found that things work themselves out for the best even if they don’t seem to work out at the beginning. They always, always work out. I would also tell myself to have more fun. Not everything is within my control, and it isn’t something to stress over. If you work hard, and you will get to where you need to go. Lastly, you need people around you to accomplish your goals, relationships are very, very important and it isn’t smart to do it all on your own.

What was your dream job before building your brand? 

Before starting Skylar, I was the VP of Operations at The Honest Company. My dream job was to one day be a COO or CEO. I tend to be more analytical so it is a role where my skill set is highly useful, but I also wanted to be in a role where I could run a business. I particularly enjoy the team building element, growing a business from milestone to milestone, and celebrating wins together.

What inspired you when you were younger? What inspires or motivates you now?

As a child, both of my parents worked a lot. I actually didn’t get to see them all that much. But their work ethic taught me very valuable lessons and made a strong impression on me. It taught me to work hard to get where you want to go, and to live the life that you want. My parents didn’t have a lot growing up, so to see their hard work ethic build the life they wanted was very inspiring to me.
In more recent years, one of our board members has been an inspiration to me. She built an amazing career for herself while also being a mother, mentor and friend. I’ve learned so much from her and have been able to meet many of the friends that she has made throughout the years. She made a career out of what she truly enjoys and has impacted many people, which is especially inspiring. To be able to have a career where you impact and touch people along the way, while living the life you want to live is an incredible accomplishment. 

What piece of advice would you give to young women today? 

Have confidence and believe in yourself. As women, it’s often our tendency to feel insecure and negotiate against ourselves and to compare ourselves to others. What I’ve learned is that it is important to trust yourself. No one who has ever made it thought they were going to make it every step of the way. Conquering self-doubt and insecurity are an important part of the process toward success and your goals. I would also say to not aim for perfection, focus on the big picture and believe in yourself. Lastly, pursue your passion. This journey has to be sustainable, so it is important to pursue the things that you care about. When things get hard, pursuing what you like keeps you motivated because it’s not always rosy. Pursuing your passion makes all of the adversity worth it and all of your big-wins and accomplishments even sweeter.

Cat Chen Bundle

$28.50
The shades in this bundle were curated by Cat Chen of Skylar. 10% of proceeds from this bundle will be donated to Downtown Women's Center, the only organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women.

This bundle is exclusively available through March 31. 2020.

Shades included:
  • Ethereal Plane
  • Cyber Peach
  • Head In The Clouds

All shades are Leaping Bunny Certified Cruelty-Free, Vegan, and Free From Harmful Chemicals.

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